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Status, Happiness, and Relative Income

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  • Beath, John

    ()
    (University of St. Andrews)

  • FitzRoy, Felix

    ()
    (University of St. Andrews)

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    Abstract

    Models of status based on Frank’s (1985) count of the number of people with lower conspicuous consumption are inconsistent with the extensive empirical literature on happiness and well-being. The alternative approach to consumption interaction which uses some form of relative income has been developed in various contexts. These predict that a representative agent’s well-being will increase with real income or consumption. However, this is again inconsistent with the time-series evidence for advanced economies. In this paper we combine a simple model of relative income with a distribution of ability that correctly predicts both time series results of near constant utility, and the positive, concave cross-sectional relation between income, working time and happiness.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2658.

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    Length: 29 pages
    Date of creation: Mar 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2658

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    Keywords: status; happiness; relative income;

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    References

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    1. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1994. "Satisfaction and comparison income," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9408, CEPREMAP.
    2. Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2004. "Running to Keep in the Same Place: Consumer Choice as a Game of Status," ESE Discussion Papers 92, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    3. Luttmer, Erzo F. P., 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," Working Paper Series rwp04-029, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    4. Abel, Andrew B, 1990. "Asset Prices under Habit Formation and Catching Up with the Joneses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 38-42, May.
    5. Abel, Andrew B., 1999. "Risk premia and term premia in general equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 3-33, February.
    6. Alois Stutzer, . "The Role of Income Aspirations in Individual Happiness," IEW - Working Papers 124, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    7. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    8. Robson, Arthur J, 1992. "Status, the Distribution of Wealth, Private and Social Attitudes to Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 837-57, July.
    9. Harald Uhlig & Lars Ljungqvist, 2000. "Tax Policy and Aggregate Demand Management under Catching Up with the Joneses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 356-366, June.
    10. Cooper, Ben & Garcia-Penalosa, Cecilia & Funk, Peter, 2001. "Status Effects and Negative Utility Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 642-65, July.
    11. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2006. "Some Uses of Happiness Data in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 25-46, Winter.
    12. Moffitt, Robert, 1983. "An Economic Model of Welfare Stigma," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1023-35, December.
    13. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2006. "Income and happiness: Evidence, explanations and economic implications," PSE Working Papers halshs-00590436, HAL.
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